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EBRD shuts shops in Russia

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St Basils cathedral on Red Square in Moscow.

The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is closing five of its seven offices in Russia.

“It has been decided to close five small regional offices in Ekaterinburg, Krasnoyarsk, Rostov, Vladivostok and Samara by end of first quarter 2018,” EBRD spokesperson Anton Usov tells GTR.

The bank will keep the Moscow and St. Petersburg offices.

The EBRD has stopped new investments in Russia since July 2104, following EU sanctions relating to the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. However, the bank continues to have over 160 ongoing projects in the country worth circa €3.5bn. Some 51% of the portfolio is in the industry, commerce and agribusiness sectors, while financial intuitions and infrastructure account for 23% and 22% respectively.

“The projects are a combination of debt and equity with different maturities,” says Usov.

According to the bank, its shareholders decided in May 2017, to “keep status quo in relation to our operations in Russia”. The EBRD will remain present in the country to support existing projects and clients but will not undertake any new business.

Since 2014, Russia’s economy, currency and trade have all taken several blows in the battles against sanctions and crashing oil prices. Western states imposed sanctions against Russia during the Ukrainian crisis in 2014, when Russia used military intervention to take over of the Crimean region. Russia has responded with its own sanctions against a number of countries, including a total ban on food imports from the EU, US, Norway, Canada and Australia.

The EBRD has invested in 788 projects in Russia to date, with a cumulative value of €24.9bn.

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